Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Winter Warmer Deals from Felicity Heaton / F E Heaton – Paranormal Romances with Passion


Between now and 15th January 2012, you can get your hands on some of Felicity Heaton and F E Heaton’s hot heroes at bargain prices! What better way to pass a chilly winter or relax in the sunshine if you're down under, than curled up in the arms of some paranormal heroes, letting yourself be swept along in their romance and adventures?

There are plenty of fantastic reads to choose from, all priced between $0.99 and $2.99 and in a range of lengths between novella and long novels, and a variety of paranormal romance sub-genres including sinful angels, sexy vampires, seductive werewolves, and even a super-hot demon and sassy witch pairing.

You can snap up the first book in Felicity Heaton’s best selling angel romance series, Her Dark Angel, for only $0.99, a saving of $2. Or indulge in some urban fantasy romance with Ascension for only $0.99, a saving of $3. Or perhaps get in the seasonal spirit with Vampire for Christmas for only $0.99. If you like your vampire romances packed with emotion and full of twists to keep you on your toes, then Forbidden Blood is only $2.99.

Her other persona, F E Heaton, is offering great savings on her popular Vampires Realm series. You can buy all three books in the epic Prophecy Trilogy for only $0.99 each. That’s a saving of $6! What’s more, you can get your hands on two more books in the series, Seventh Circle, a vampire romance novel, and Winter’s Kiss, a vampire/werewolf romance novel, for just $2.99 each.

These great deals are available at Amazon Kindle Stores, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble Nook, Sony Reader Store, Apple iBookstore and Kobo Books, as well as the author’s website! See the offer page for availability of individual books. Some books are still in the process of changing price at certain retailers but you can buy epub ebooks direct from the author or Smashwords for your Nook, Sony Reader or Kobo eReader if you can’t wait.

So snap these up quick to avoid disappointment! Prices will change back on 15th January 2012.

Find out more about the books and these great offers at: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/paranormal-romance-ebook-offers.php

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Book Review: Karma Girl by Jennifer Estep

Title: Karma Girl
Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Book #1 in the Bigtime series
Release Date: 1 May 2007 (reissued as ebook on 12 July 2011)
Number of pages: 360 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Source: review copy provided by author
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon

Grade: 4.5 stars

Novellus superbus!
Goodreads appetizer: Bigtime, New York, is not big enough for both Carmen Cole and the superheroes and ubervillains who stalk its streets. An intrepid reporter, Carmen's dedicated her life to unmasking the spandexwearers, all because her fiancé turned out to be a superhero, and a cheating one at that-sleeping with none other than his nubile nemesis.

Exposing the true identities of the nation's caped crusaders and their archenemies has catapulted Carmen from her sleepy southern hometown to the front pages of the country's biggest newspaper, The Exposé. Hobnobbing with millionaires and famished fashionistas is all in a day's work for a woman on the trail of the Fearless Five and Terrible Triad. But when Carmen gets the scoop of her career, her life comes crashing down around her. And even Bigtime's sexiest superhero, Striker, may not be able to save her.

Originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

My Thoughts: I'm a big fan of Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series and immediately fell in love with the premise and characters of her Mythos Academy series, so I had a hinch that I would be in for a great story when I started reading Karma Girl, but I never expected to be blown away this much!

Karma Girl is the first novel in Jennifer Estep’s Bigtime series which is set in an alternate universe where every town in the world has their own superheroes (“someone who shows up whenever the train runs off the tracks and won’t stop”) and ubervillains, the archnemesis of the superheroes, those “who want to rule supreme”. Cape and tight wearing cartoon characters are actually real people and battles done with superpowers are true and not sci-fi stories. Can you imagine such a colourful, buzzing and heightened world? Well multiply what you picture by a thousand and you might get close to Bigtime, where if someone says “traffic was terrible” it might mean that “Yeti Girl was throwing cars around the freeway. Swifte showed up and helped the cops tranq her, but it took them forever to get the debris off the road.”

The Bigtime series is flashing with the bright costumes of the several dozens of superheroes and ubervillains Jennifer Estep introduces: there is Granny Cane (yep you got it right, she is an old lady of seventy who grabs the purse-stealing thugs and brings them to the police lol), reformed ubervillain Shrieker who signs copies of her tell-all memoir in the mall, but the most famous ones in the city are the Fearless Five and the Terrible Triad.

“They were legends, not just in Bigtime, but throughout the world. They had the strongest powers. They waged the biggest battles. They engaged in the most amazing escapes and the most elaborate schemes. They were the crème de la crème of superheroes and ubervillains.”

I just loved all the cartoon-like speaking names of the superheroes and ubervillains: the Toastmaster, The Kilted Scotsman, the Blue Berserker, the Fearless Five and the Terrible Triad; and the alliterating names for every character (Sam Sloane, Nate Norris, Devlin Dash, Carmen Cole) helped even more to make me feel like I was watching an episode of Superman. :-D

Carmen, our heroine, is a great character: she is an ordinary girl, one the reader can relate to. She is funny and independent but not too good to be true. She is human and flawed. But her sense of humour is without a pair, I especially loved her t-shirts, they were the best:

T-shirt that read 0 to Bitch in 7.7 seconds or your money back.
T-shirt that read Love just weighs a woman down.
And her lines like the ones below made me chuckle out loud countless times:

“I scanned the street and the surrounding alleys. Nothing. I bit back a growl of frustration. Striker wasn’t going to show. I had come down to Drugs R Us and put myself in danger for nothing.” - ROFL

What I loved most about Carmen was that she treated superheroes and ubervillains as if they were normal, ordinary people. She was impudent, cheeky, she didn’t censor herself for fear of angering them, she remained her usual self.

A block went by, then another, then another. I wasn’t sure what to say to him, given the way our last conversation had gone. It hadn’t been a smashing success. “So, how was your day?” I asked.
Can you imagine that? A superhero is walking her home so she isn’t attacked and she tries to make ordinary small talk with him! Unbelievable, and so adorable :-D

What could you say to a superhero you’d slept with? Thank you? Atta-boy? Keep up the good work?

Striker is a dashing hero. Besides being a superhero and everything that entails: drop dead gorgeous body, noble intentions, heroic and fierce protector, he has a tender and intense side to him when it comes to Carmen.
“Superheroes aren’t perfect, you know. Just because some of us have superstrength doesn’t mean we never get scared. We have fears and insecurities and worries too. I was afraid tonight. Afraid for you. I saw the men chase you into the alley. I was afraid I wouldn’t be quick enough to save you, fast enough to stop them.”

The love story between Carmen and Striker was exciting yet tender. His gentleness and care didn’t only make Carmen melt but I was a puddle myself. (and of course the heat of some scenes are to be blamed as well, there were some seriously sensual love scenes)

His hot breath brushed against my cheek as soft as a butterfly’s kiss on my feverish skin.

Karma Girl is a wonderful mix of mystery, adventure, romance and heaps of cheeky humour! I loved the wonderfully colourful characters, the exciting worldbuilding, the puzzling mystery, all the heart pounding action and of course the wonderful love story deleoping between Carmen and Striker!

Verdict: I was already a big fan of Jennifer Estep but Karma Girl made me even more devoted! It is such a laugh out loud funny, incredibly witty, amusing, breath of fresh air story, I loved every second of it and cannot wait to read more about the superheroes and ubervillains’ adventures!

Plot: 10/10
Characters: 9/10
Writing: 9/10
Ending: 9/10
Cover: 8/10 - there are several covers, one for ebook, one for paperback, etc. I prefer the one I chose above, my grade is for that one

Buy it:

Monday, 28 November 2011

Visual Aids: A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words by Monique Martin + Giveaway

Today I am happy to welcome back to the blog Monique Martin, author of the wonderfully unique and enchanting story: Out of Time, the sequel of which thankfully just hit (virtual) shelves (as it is an ebook ;-). Read on to take a spellbinding journey back in time to visit San Fransisco and New York in the early 1900s and discover more about Monique's series (you could also win a copy of the book). So please give Monique a warm welcome!

Visual Aids: A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words
by Monique Martin

I'm a visual person. So what am I doing working in a medium without images? I don't know, but when you find out tell my dad so he'll feel better about sending me to film school.

When I write, especially things like time travel romance, I love using visual prompts. I'll often cast my book with actors who have the right look or feel for the period. But it doesn't end there for me. I'll print out pictures of not just people, but places and things too. (Raise your hand if you have the Schoolhouse Rock Noun Song in your head now?)

Here are just a few of the visual aids I used when writing "Out of Time" and "When the Walls Fell".

People

For me, it's usually the minor characters that get a place on the wall of fame next to my desk. I know what Simon and Elizabeth (my hero and heroine) look like. It's the small parts and their images that help give life to a book.


Sebastian Cross, Simon's beloved grandfather from "Out of Time", was based on none other than the Nobel Prize winning philanthropist and theologian, Albert Schweitzer. How can you not love that face?


Teddy Fiske, scientist and all 'round good egg from "When the Walls Fell", was based on this man from the Harvard Physics Department circa 1900. When I was creating the character of Teddy, I cruised the net for inspiration and when I came across this photo his entire being just fell into place. I love this photo and plan to use a few more of these men as inspirations for characters in future books. Why do old pictures seem to have more soul than modern ones?

Places

1906 San Francisco, the setting for "When the Walls Fell", was filled with fantastic locations. One that I knew I had to use was the old Cliff House.

Although the Cliff House still exists today, the grandeur of the Victorian architecture is gone. It survived the great quake only to burn down the following year.


1929 New York City, the setting for "Out of Time", offered plenty of amazing locations too. One of the most memorable for me was Coney Island. From the freak shows to the Cyclorama, it just screamed for scenes to be set in it.

Things

I'm a bit of a gearhead and I loved searching for just the right car for Max from "When the Walls Fell".

I found 1911 Rolls-Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost, but it was close enough for Max and the begonias. It's hard to tell from the photo, but that sucker is almost 20 feet long! Imagine parallel parking that thing.

Last, but certainly not least, is the dress that inspired Elizabeth's gown for the Graham's party in "When the Walls Fell".

This amazing evening dress was created for the Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna. I found it and oodles of other beautiful gowns while cruising the Hermitage Museum online collections. I'm not a real clothesy person, but that dress is To. Die. For.

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into the images that inspired me. You don't have to be a writer to find an image inspirational. It might just make you feel good, or wish you were there. Is there a picture that's inspired you? If so, post about it in the comments section for a chance to win a digital copy of "When the Walls Fell".

Monique was born in Houston, Texas, but her family soon moved to Southern California. She grew up on both coasts, living in Connecticut and Los Angeles. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her naughty Siamese cat, Monkey.

Monique attended the University of Southern California's Film School. She earned a BFA in the Filmic Writing department and went on to write industrial films and documentaries. She currently has a screenplay in development. Monique worked in television for several years before joining the family business. She now works full-time as a freelance writer and novelist. Out of Time is her first novel.

Monique is a geek of many colors and has eclectic interests ranging from sports to comic books. She would sell everything she owned to go into space. "Maybe someday." She can watch twelve hours of football in a day and will even watch Golf. She has an ever-expanding comic book collection with emphasis on Silver and Bronze Age Marvel.

She's currently working on an adaptation of one of her screenplays, her father's memoirs about his time in the Air Force's Air Rescue Service and the third book in the Out of Time series.

You can reach Monique at her website: http://moniquemartin.weebly.com/index.html


Professor Simon Cross and his assistant Elizabeth West have returned from their accidental journey into the past and are adjusting to their new life together as a couple. But an unwanted visit from the Council for Temporal Studies could change everything.

A murder in the past is changing the future, and if the killing isn't stopped, Simon Cross might never be born.

When they arrive in 1906 San Francisco, Elizabeth and Simon have no idea who wants Victor Graham dead or how it will happen. With the earthquake that leveled most of the city just days away, the race to save Graham thrusts them into a complex mystery of jealousy and revenge where murder might be the least of their worries.

The exciting sequel to Out of Time: A Paranormal Romance, When the Walls Fell, is a time travel adventure filled with suspense, mystery and romance.

Look for more books in the Out of Time series coming in 2012!



GIVEAWAY RULES:

Monique generously offered an ebook copy of When the Walls Fell to a lucky commentator.


All you have to do is:

1. leave a comment answering Monique's question: Is there a picture that's inspired you?

2. leave me a way to contact you if you win (e-mail address, Twitter handle, etc.)

Giveaway is open worlwide and ends on 5 December 2011!

Good luck!

It's Monday, What Are you Reading? (#57)


It's Monday, What are you reading? is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books to list the books completed last week, the books currently being read and the books to be finished this week.

I hope all my fellow American blogger and author friends had a nice Thanksgiving weekend, ate a lot of delicious meals and spent some quality time with their loved ones :-)

I myself had quite a horrible weekend: my boss called me after 9:30 pm on Friday night saying I would have to work all weekend, which I did and I was (and still am) sick with the flu :-/ So not feeling too well or happy right now.

But I also have some good news:

Book Lovers Inc

Don't know if you have seen, but we at Book Lovers Inc. have moved to a bright new, shiny and beautiful site, come check it out, stop by our site-warming party ;-)



I continue reading holiday themed novels for the Book Lovers Inc's Holiday Reading Challenge and I'm getting more and more into the holiday spirit. Now all I need to do is get into gift shopping...
(You can read about the details and sign up for the Challenge here.)

So here is what I have read this past week:


Books I completed 


This is Book #2 in Jennifer Estep Mythos Academy series. I loved the first novel and couldn't wait to finally dive back in and read about Gwen, Logan and the magical school, and Book #2 was even better than the first one! The tension between Logan and Gwen escalates even more, and Jennifer Estep introduced some new great supporting characters. Unfortunately the release date of Book #3 is sooo far away :-((


(Book #2.5 in the Secret McQueen series)

If you are a follower of my blog you must know how much I LOVE the Secret McQueen series (Review #1 - Review #2) and worship the ground where Sierra Dean walks (well, as I am literally a continent away I do it  virtually ;-). And the latest release of the series reminded me why I looove this series so much! It is witty, it is funny, full of action, sexiness and yummy heroes, and the kickass heroine is simply one of a kind! If you love urban fantasy, you HAVE to read this novella for the holidays! (read for the Book Lovers Inc's Holiday Reading Challenge)


(Book #2 in the Sugar Shack series)

A wonderful heart-warming and sexy small town contemporary romance which had the perfect dose of sweetness, sexiness and holiday decorations to be a favourite holiday read! I haven't read the first book, but this reads just as well as a standalone, I would recommend it to small town romance lovers! (read for the Book Lovers Inc's Holiday Reading Challenge) My review will be posted soon.



My review will be posted next Monday (on December 5) over at Book Lovers Inc., stop by Elizabeth Means will be there giving away a copy of her novel.


Book I am currently reading


Yep, I am about to finally start reading The Lady's Secret! (I bet you were getting tired of seeing it in my "Can't-wait-to-read" list ;-p) 


Books I can't wait to start

more holiday themed stories and historical romances!

I just noticed that I haven't read any historical romances for the past 2 months (don't know how that could have happened!), only read contemporary romances, so now I am craving some period romances :-D

And what are you reading this week?


Sunday, 27 November 2011

Mini Book Review: Forever Bound by Stacey Kennedy

Title: Forever Bound
Author: Stacey Kennedy
Series: Book #5 in the 1 Night Stand series
Number of Pages: novella
Release Date: 22 April 2011
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Source: won a copy at Paranormal Romantics
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Kindle store

Grade: 3 stars

Novellus bonus!
Goodreads appetizer: Josie Harper had boyfriends, lovers, and even friends with benefits. None of them could satisfy her. Something had always been missing—something she was now desperate to find.

Gavin Scott longed for the perfect submissive. A woman worthy of the gift he could give to her as a Dom. Most failed to meet his expectations and he’d all but given up hope.

A high class match-maker in Las Vegas brings Josie and Gavin together. Tonight, Gavin will introduce Josie to the world of BDSM. As he skillfully guides her through the experience, Josie isn’t the only one captivated. Gavin is in awe of her control, someone this new to the lifestyle shouldn’t possess this great of a talent.

During their journey, Josie will find the missing piece of her soul and Gavin will meet the woman who was born to submit to him.

*Warning: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable.

My thoughts: Nice quick bedtime story, it's a pity it wasn't longer, the setting and premise were promising, and I could very well picture the characters exploring each other in a little more depth. Pity it was only a novella, nice writing, steamy, but could have been a bit hotter if Stacey Kennedy had more length to delve into character development. Will definitely check Stacey Kennedy's other works because her writing is great!

Verdict: If you'd like a quick steamy bite sized read, this one is for you!

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 7/10
Ending: 7/10
Writing: 8/10
Cover: 9/10

Buy it:

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Winner of North of Need


Another giveaway has ended, so I'm here to make someone very happy :-) 

If you remember following Laura Kaye's interview I asked you, what power would be the coolest for a snow god to have, and there were some great and funny answers (you can check them here). My personal favourite power of a snow god was one that Laura Kaye wrote about in North of Need, when Owen made a magic carpet out of snow and used it to "fly". Laura's description was completely vivid and magical, I loved reading about such a unique and completely crazy adventure!

So you all want to know who won this time? The lucky winner of an ebook copy of North of Need by Laura Kaye is 


Lisa Richards


Congratulations Lisa! I have sent you an e-mail notifying you of your win, please get back to me within 48 hours or I will have to draw a new winner. Thank you.


There are a couple more giveaways you can still enter:

Friday, 25 November 2011

Interview with Jessica Scott + Giveaway

I am very happy and honoured to welcome to Ex Libris Jessica Scott, debut romance author and career soldier, whose first novel (Because of You) I got to read a few weeks ago. I loved it (you can read my review of Because of You here), so when the opportunity presented itself that I could ask Jessica some questions, I jumped on it. I even had so many questions that they were too many for only one interview, so you can find the first part here at Book Lovers Inc. and read on to learn more about Jessica and her novel. Please give Jessica a warm welcome and you will also have the chance to win a copy of her book! :-)

Stella: Hi Jess, I am so very happy to welcome you to Ex Libris! You are a debut author and a career soldier. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your job in the Army?

Jess: Hi Stella,Thanks so much for inviting me to Ex Libris! Hmm, my life is chaos, honestly. I just left company command so I'm on a little bit of a break but a normal day starts at 530 in the morning on the way to physical training and usually ends somewhere around 1800 ish. Some night were a lot longer. But my writing day doesn't usually start until after 2000 after the kids go to bed when I finally get time to sit down and knock out a few paragraphs.

Stella: Your novel Because of You, the first in a contemporary romance series featuring military heroes was released on November 14, congratulations! Would you mind telling readers what they can expect of Because of You and the following novels?

Jess: I'm super proud of my books. When I first started trying to pitch my military romance series, I had a heck of a time because people heard military and immediately thought romantic suspense. They're not suspense in any shape, despite having military characters. My agent says they're love stories, involving people who happen to be in the military. They are much more contemporary stories of community and really about how life changes when you come home from war. No one comes home unchanged, I don't care who you are. The questions then are how you deal with them and those are the questions that I tackle in the Coming Home series.

Because of You is the first book and each book will build upon the previous book but my goal is to make sure each book can stand alone, too. Because of You deals with one soldiers journey of discovering who he is when he no longer wears the uniform. Pretty heavy on the angst but there are some lighter moments, too. The following novels deal with more issues on the home front. Back To You tells Trent & Laura's story and is about a man trying to win back his wife after he's been gone to war constantly, seeking atonement for his sins. Until There Was You is the story of a female soldiers journey to be the best she can be and the scars she tries to keep hidden.

Stella: You write about issues you have first hand knowledge of (deployment, tour in wartorn countries, camaraderie between soldiers, wounded/healing soldiers etc.), either because you have experienced them yourself or have witnessed them. Being this connected to these issues made your description and narration sound authentic and realistic. But what were the difficulties of writing about such delicate and close to home topics, were there any hardships?

Jess: The ideas for these books can really come from anywhere. The toughest thing is making sure that real life doesn't accidentally make its way into fiction in any way that would be either disloyal, disrespectful or a violation of trust. I don't always remember where I've read things or where I've heard things, so I have to be incredibly careful to make sure that I don't include real life, you know?

Stella: You are a young woman, wife, mother and a career soldier. Being a European civilian I am not familiar with army-life, I mostly know what I do from fiction novels, so would you mind please enlightening me as to an issue I have read about several times but am still a bit confused despite researching it? Namely the differnce between station and position of enlisted and officer soldiers. In novels, enlisted and officer soldiers not only can’t be in a relationship but usually even friendships are frowned upon. Is it the same in real life? And could you please tell me why that is? What is the main difference between them and why does the army keep up this differentiation even when someone has been in the army for some time?

Jess: The question is completely legitimate and yeah, I do understand why it's tough to wrap your brain around, not being familiar with the rank structure. The US military has basically two rank structures, officer and enlisted. Our legal responsibilities and expectations are different as are our requirements. So as an officer, a person has formal authority defined in law, whereas enlisted authority is based on executing the orders of the officer they work for.

One of the army regulations that determine policy clearly delineates between relationships, friendships or otherwise, between officers and enlisted and yet, when you have a relationship formed and tested in combat, those regulations sometimes become meaningless. So one of the things I tackles is the strength of relationships formed during wartime and the strain that not being in war places on them. Does that make sense?

Stella: Could you please briefly introduce to our readers the characters of Because of You?

Jen: I've known Shane through friends for a while but I never really talked with him. He's kind of intimidating, honestly. But we started talking one night before he deployed and it really struck me how deeply he cares about it the men he serves with. I never expected that I'd end up being the one who cared for him and let me tell you, he's not an easy patient. He hates asking for help and he's incredibly stubborn but I finally got him to take time for himself to heal.

Shane: I never really had time to notice anyone outside of work. I met Jen the night before I left on my third tour for Iraq. I don't know, I wasn't trying to meet anyone that night, I just wanted to keep my guys from going to jail. When I got blown up and sent home, she out up with a ton of my bullshit but never once did she let me feel sorry for myself. I had no idea she'd been sick but it only made me admire her more. She's the strongest person I know. And that's pretty damn sexy to me.

Stella: What was your favourite scene in Because of You? (either because the words just flew so easily or because even though you sweated blood and tears the end result was really worth it)?

Jess: There are only a few scenes in Because of You that survived the revisions process over the years. One of those is the scene where Jen finally shows her scars to Shane. So many women have issues getting naked with a guy when they're both aroused and here's this woman showing a man she isn't sleeping with her mastectomy scars just to point out that there is a life after major health problems. It took a lot for her to do that and the payoff, I hope, was worth it.

I've heard from breast cancer survivors who said they were so touched by the way Jens friends dealt with her. It was incredibly gratifying to have readers tell me they loved that Jen wasn't perfect and that she found a way to love again despite her scars.

Stella: Can you tell us what is next on your schedule, what can we expect from you?

Jess: Next up is Trent's story in Back to You followed by Claire's story in Until There was You. Both continue the theme of coming home from war and learning to live again in the world . After that, I'm working on three more stories in the coming home series and am cleaning up the proposal for them now.

Stella: In an old interview I have discovered on the web you say that there were several novels prior to Because of You: War's Darkest Fear, After the War and Angels Before Me. Would you like to say anything about these?

Jess: Some of those novels are actually earlier drafts the Coming Home series books. Angels Before Me is a draft of a Young Adult novel Jacob Descending which just finaled in the Writers Digest competition. Down the road, I'll probably revise that and see if it will sell but that's a longer term project.

Stella: Again in this interview I read that you wrote a paranormal romance. Is it available or does it still wait publication? What kind of supernatural species did it feature? And why did you chose them, what were their appeal?

Jess: While I was deployed, I started toying with the idea that there were really guardian angels walking among us. This was before fallen angels really glutted the marketplace. I'm always behind the trends, it seems. But my paranormal series was along the lines of what if the battle for the end times was actually happening and there were angels among us trying to stop it. I'll probably revisit that down the road, someday but right now, I'm focusing on the Coming Home series.

Stella: Did you ever consider writing a non-fiction book about your life and experience in the army or you prefer to use writing to escape reality and create gripping fictional stories instead?

Jess: I actually have a nonfiction project that deal with military mothers but had to shelve it due to some challenges with the text. I'd love to get that out there some time, but I'm not sure when it'll actually make the rounds to editors.

Stella: Is there a myth/misconception people have about the army, soldiers in general or about you when they hear you are a carrier soldier you’d like to clear?

Jess: I guess I'd hate to hear that people won't criticize the book because I'm a soldier. Look, I know everyone who has read it hasn't enjoyed it. It's impossible. But I hope that if people don't enjoy it, they don't feel muted because it's a soldier who wrote it. I also don't want people spending a lot of time trying to figure out if they're in the book. I work very hard to keep real people out of the book, you know?

Soldiers are just like you and me, we just wear a uniform and are truly part of something bigger. Not everyone can be a soldier, it's a privilege and an honor and one I take very seriously.


Find out more about Jess and her books at http://www.jessicascott.net/Welcome.html. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads.


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Random House has generously offered an ebook copy of Because of You to two lucky commenters!


All you have to do is

1) leave a comment/question for Jess or tell us: what is your favourite military romance novel/series? Or if you don't read this genre, why not?
2) leave me a way to contact you in case you win (e-mail address, Twitter handle, etc.)

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 2 December 2011.

Good luck!

Book Review: Because of You by Jessica Scott

Title: Because of You
Author: Jessica Scott
Series: Book #1 in the Coming Home series
Release Date: 14 November 2011
Number of pages: 224 pages
Publisher: Loveswept
Source: eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon
Goodreads appetizer:

From the war-torn streets of Baghdad to the bittersweet comforts of the home front, two wounded hearts navigate the battlefield of coming home from war in this explosive eBook original from newcomer Jessica Scott.

Keeping his men alive is all that matters to Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison. But meeting Jen St. James the night before his latest deployment makes Shane wonder if there’s more to life than war. He leaves for Iraq remembering a single kiss with a woman he’ll never see again—until a near fatal attack lands him back at home and in her care.

Jen has survived her own brush with death and endured its scars. And yet there’s a fire in Shane that makes Jen forget all about her past. He may be her patient, but when this warrior looks her in the eyes, she feels—for the first time in a long time—like a woman. Shane is too proud to ask for help, but for Jen, caring for him is more than a duty—it’s a need. And as Jen guides Shane through the fires of healing, she finds something she never expected—her deepest desire.

Originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

My Thoughts: First of all I would like to state so that there is no misunderstanding: Because of You is not a military romance, but a contemporary romance having military heroes/heroines. I warn you so you don’t expect to read about thrilling and suspenseful war scenes, the novel mostly takes place in the US and is not about some suspenseful military action but the emotional healing of wounded soldiers and how they find their way to love.

That said, I can now tell you what an amazing read Because of You was. Jessica Scott wrote such a deeply emotional and overwhelming story, that reading about the internal struggles of these wounded men and women, portrayed in such a realistic way teared me up quite a few times, and I’m not really the tearing up kind.

Meet the heroine: Jen St. James, who is a nurse and breast cancer survivor. I found it incredibly brave and laudable of Jessica Scott that she chose to feature a cancer survivor who lost her breast as the heroine of her romance novel. Despite being grateful for still being alive, Jen still hasn’t come to terms of having lost such a primordial part of her feminity and herself and she considers herself a “freak” and damaged goods.

The hero of Because of You is Shane Garrison an infantry platoon sergeant and a dreamy hero: besides the swoonworthy physical attributes (tall, strong and handsome), he is extremely responsible, honourable and generous. Following a vicious attack Shane is sent back home to heal and Jen is one of the nurses taking care of him.

The love developed gradually and in a very realistic way between Shane and Jen, Jessica Scott didn't gloss over Shane's injuries and make them "alibi wounds" just to land him near a nurse. No, Shane's suffering because of him losing his identity was real and heart-wrenching.
"I don’t want help. I don’t need your help. I want to get fixed and get back to Iraq."
Shane had difficulty defining himself as anything else than the infantry platoon sergeant he was/is. His whole life revolves around the army and his boys. His sense of responsibility and commitment for his men was both troubling and astonishing. Troubling because it added heavy weights to his shoulders and conscience and astonishing that he felt so deeply responsible for other grown up people.
"I am. That’s what I do. I fix my soldier’s problems. I let them lean on me when things in their lives are broken. I take care of them."
His devotion to his men moved me to tears. It was heartbreaking reading about his terror, revulsion and despair at having lost the main part of his identity, the part which he feels defines him, how he feels completely lost and confused not being a soldier anymore.

(and I have to note here that Shane's inner thoughts and memories were written in such a distinctly male voice that I find it extraordinary a woman managed to channel such a masculine character and train of thought, so kudos to Jessica Scott!)

In Because of You Jessica Scott showed us how two strong but scarred and lost people surmount their vulnerabilities to open themselves to love and each other. An exceptionally emotional, moving and overwhelming read I can only recommend to everyone!

What I loved more than anything about Because of You was the authentic voice of Jessica Scott, how believable the story was because she wrote most of it from personal experience. Being a European civilian I don’t have any connection to the army besides the occasional military fiction novel I read, but through her vivid and emotional narrative I got a glimpse at what it must feel like to have someone in the army or be in the army. Reading Shane's thoughts, reading the wives' and girlfriends thoughts on their men's deployment was both eye-opening and moving. Jessica Scott showed the not so glossy side of being an army wife, the constant worrying, struggles, heartache and fear of drifting away emotionally from your husband.
"I’m not a single parent by choice, I’m a single parent by my husband’s choice. He’s literally been home for long enough to get me pregnant and that’s it.” She bit her lips and stared into space. 
The truth behind Jessica Scott's words resonated through the pages.
"It doesn’t get any easier no matter how many times you say good-bye."
Deployments were filled with long bouts of boredom and loneliness, punctuated by bursts of pure terror and an overdose of adrenaline.

But I have to mention that besides being such a heavily emotional story, Jessica Scott managed to pepper the novel with laugh out loud humour (Thundercock, hospital erection scene just to mention two of my favourites *wink*).

Verdict: Prepare several boxes of tissues because you will need them. Because of You is an incredibly raw read, it held my heart in a painful squeeze and made me try to swallow my tears so many times I lost count. It is not a light roses and sunshine romance, it is full of angst, pain and emotional suffering because the story is so very real. I teared up, my heart aching for these poor men and women and their torment. Because of You is an extremely powerful and emotional debut novel, one that will squeeze your heart and resonate with you for several days.

I can't wait to read the next novels in the series, I am completely wrung but happy, Jessica Scott took me on an incredibly emotionally exhausting journey but the ending couldn't have been more perfect, so I await the next book with a happy sigh. :-)

Plot: 7/10
Characters: 8/10
Writing: 8/10
Ending: 8/10
Cover: 6/10

Buy it:

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Winner of Until There Was You


The lucky winner of a paperback copy of Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins is 


Diane Sallans 


As Diane was lucky and has already won a copy of the novel a new winner has been drawn, who is none other than

Donna!

Congratulations Donna! I have sent you an e-mail notifying you of your win, please get back to me within 48 hours or I will have to draw a new winner. Thank you.


There are a couple more giveaways which you can still enter:

Win an ebook copy of North of Need by Laura Kaye - Open worldwide - Ends 25 November

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Interview by Kersten Hamilton + Giveaway

Today I am happy to welcome to Ex Libris Kersten Hamilton, whose latest release In the Forests of the Night, the second novel in the acclaimed and beloved Goblin Wars series made a lot of people ecstatic and incredibly happy release day has finally arrived! Please give a warm welcome to Kersten and read on to win a beautiful hardcover copy of In the Forests of the Night!


Stella: Hi Kersten, welcome to Ex Libris! Could you please say a few words about yourself?

Kersten: Thank you for having me on the blog today. Let’s see. I am an eclectic writer who enjoys a good adventure—literal or literary—now and then. :-)

Stella: Can you introduce your Goblin War series to those readers who must live under a rock and have missed out on the buzz of Book #1 Tyger, Tyger?

Kersten: I’ll let some readers introduce it, because frankly, I’m not very good at it:

“…a fast-paced adventure with a backbone of Celtic myth and heart of romance.” Pat Esden

“Hamilton is a wizard at creating tension, building on characters’ strengths and weaknesses until the plot really takes off.” Kirkus

“I loved the characters, the dialogs that had that witty and quirky feeling I adore, the world–building…. I loved it because it was so utterly different from other YA fantasy novels. It was all at once touching, hilarious, action-packed and fast-paced.” Roxanne, The Honeyed Knot

Stella: Would you like to introduce your main characters to the readers?

Kersten: May I quote a reader again?
“Teagan is smart and brave and doesn’t do dumb things that make you want to pull your hair out. Meanwhile Finn is absolutely sexy and cocky and sexy and brave and sexy… They’ve got great chemistry.” Ello from The Inkpot

Stella: Could you explain to us the choice of the title and its relevance?

Kersten: All of the titles come from William Blake’s poem The Tyger, which, like my books, questions the Creator about the nature of good and evil:

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

You can read the rest of it here.

Stella: After the release of Tyger, Tyger you have said in an interview that you planned the series to be a trilogy. Now after the 2nd book is out I'd like to ask: is the Goblins War still to be a trilogy or do you think there are more stories to be told in this universe?

Kersten: I would love to have more than three books in which to play in the world of the Goblin Wars because I have a lot of stories I’d like to tell about these characters. But…publishing is a business and if the first two do not do really, REALLY well then I will have to wrap this story arc—and universe—up in the third book. We’ll see….

Stella: You write picture books, that must be very different than writing "normal", longer prose-stories. How do you go about it? Don't you find it frustrating you have to keep your story/sentences short?

Kersten: Writing picture books is like writing poetry, even for books which do not rhyme. The sound and feel of every single word is important. With novels, the emotional flow of each scene is the most important thing to keep straight. So they are very different, but I really enjoy writing them both. I’ve also written easy–to–reads, and those are difficult because of sentence length and limited word choice. It’s like writing with a cramp in my leg.

Stella: Do you have any ideas what you'll explore next after the Goblins War series?

Kersten: Oh, yes, only about a million! I have just sold a very fun steampunk chapter book The Mesmer Menace, set on the eve of the Great Mesmer War of 1901, featuring a boy inventor, President Teddy Roosevelt, evil hypnotists, robots, a lightning harvester, and a dashingly brave and loyal dachshund named Noodles. I am finishing a “Holes”–esque older MG dealing with suicide, Catholicism, immigration issues and one undead school administrator. After that, I have a TOP SECRET YA project in the works…

Stella: Any other myth/legend/genre you'd like to explore?

Kersten: I love Nordic Mythology…

Stella: Speaking of myth, do you have a favourite one? Or if you can't choose just one, one type of mythology (Celtic, Greek, etc.)?

Kersten: I love all Myth as described by Tolkien in this poem.

He wrote it for C.S. Lewis, who had said that, “myths were lies and therefore worthless, even though 'breathed through silver'.” Lewis was eventually converted. I never had to be converted—True Myth is my home country.

Stella: Still speaking of myths: if you could be a mythical creature or live a day in a myth, what kind of creature would you like to be, or which myth would you choose?

Kersten: If I could be any creature from any story ever conceived? I would be….wait for it….a Fairy Godmother! Yep. Because Fairy Godmothers appear to people who have no hope and no chance, giving them just the tools they need to succeed—if they have the courage to pursue their own dreams. I would love to be able to do that. But I wouldn’t wear puffy dresses or sparkle shoes and a tiara. They’d just have to believe in me when I appeared in my jeans and t–shirt. Or pajamas. Without remembering to brush my hair. :-)


You can find Kersten at her website, blog and Goodreads.

In the Forests of the Night by Kersten Hamilton

The battle against goblinkind continues . . . but which side will Teagan be on?

Teagan, Finn, and Aiden have made it out of Mag Mell alive, but the Dark Man’s forces are hot on their heels. Back in Chicago, Tea’s goblin cousins show up at her school, sure she will come back to Mag Mell, as goblin blood is never passive once awoken. Soon she will belong to Fear Doirich and join them. In the meantime, they are happy to entertain themselves by trying to seduce, kidnap, or kill Tea’s family and friends. Tea knows she doesn’t have much time left, and she refuses to leave Finn or her family to be tortured and killed. A wild Stormrider, born to rule and reign, is growing stronger inside her. But as long as she can hold on, she’s still Teagan Wylltson, who plans to be a veterinarian and who heals the sick and hurting. The disease that’s destroying her—that’s destroying them all—has a name: Fear Doirich. And Teagan Wylltson is not going to let him win.

GIVEAWAY RULES:

Kersten has generously offered a hardcover copy of In the Forests of the Night to a lucky commenter.


All you have to do to be entered is

1) leave a comment telling us If you could be any mythical creature, what would you like to be? and
2) leave a way for me to contact you (e-mail address, Twitter handle, etc.)

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 30 November 2011!

Good luck!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Book Review: Cruising Toward Love by Christi Barth

Title: Cruising Toward Love
Author: Christi Barth
Release Date: 30 August 2011
Number of pages: 312 pages
Publisher: Bookstrand
Source: review copy provided by author
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon

Grade: 3.5 stars

Novellus bonus!
Goodreads appetizer: Can an unexplained breakup and ten years of heartache be cured by the romance - and endless buffets - of a tropical cruise? When her sister is left at the altar, small town librarian Zoe Balis jumps at the chance to take the bride’s unused ticket for the honeymoon cruise. But she didn't count on sharing a cabin with the man who broke her heart ten years ago!

Army medic Nate Hyatt never told Zoe goodbye when he enlisted - or the real reason why he dumped her on prom night after a year as high school sweethearts. And he never stopped dreaming about the girl he left behind. Could this voyage be his chance to fix the worst mistake he ever made? After all, a Caribbean cruise should be romantic… if he can convince her to move past ten years of bitterness and hurt.

Once aboard the luxury liner, Zoe befriends a bored Internet mogul with more heart than tact. Nate vents his problems to a ship’s photographer battling PTSD. The four team up on an island hopping treasure hunt. The stakes grow higher with each of Zoe’s mysterious brushes with death. They race to discover why she's a target and who's behind it, while still competing in the treasure hunt.

Zoe’s never gotten over her first love, and is tempted to let Nate back into her life. But she already lost him once. She’s not willing to risk loving a man whose career keeps him in a combat zone. Can Nate breach her defenses and suture her broken heart? Grab a deck chair and see if they survive the stormy relationship seas as they cruise toward love!

Originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

My Thoughts: I discovered Christi Barth earlier this year when I stumbled upon Act Like We're in Love and fell in love with the story, the characters and Christi's writing (you can read my review of Act Like We're in Love here), just telling you this so you can picture how much I was looking forward to reading Cruising Toward Love.

Cruising Toward Love is an interesting mix of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. I really liked the contemporary romance part but didn't care much for the suspense plot, but let me tell you about it in more detail.

The story starts wonderfully: Zoe is the considerate big sister and all around nice girl: she is not only helping out her baby sister in the organisation of Stella's (said baby sister's) marriage, but is organising her sister's marriage since her sister is enough of a brat to bat her eyelashes and pout to have her way. And poor soft-hearted Zoe gives in every time and takes on everything.

So Zoe is on her way, having just picked up the bridesmaids' gifts when some crazy biker almost runs her over, sending her (and all the crystal gifts and Stella's freshly cleaned out clothes) sprawling in a muddy puddle. You can imagine Zoe's indignation, well guess what, it even gets worse: because the handsome (but crazy) biker is none other than Zoe's high school sweetheart Nate, who left Zoe and their small town without any explanation and broke Zoe's heart and self-confidence by doing so. But no, don't think that is all: because Zoe's bratty sister forgot to warn her, that they have asked Nate to be the best man, thus Zoe has to endure his presence for several days and even smile since everyone's eye (and cameras) will be on them. So that is how the novel starts off.

I have to say that I tremendously enjoyed the first third of the novel, Nate and Zoe's meeting and the subsequent scenes were full of tension, banter and sizzling chemistry. But then later their love story sadly lost center stage once they got on the cruise as a lot of time was spent on Callie and Reed and they became just as prominent characters as Nate and Zoe and not just secondary ones.

Callie is a vibrant, colourful, vivid, over the top young woman. She is like a force of nature, nonstop flirting with shy geek Reed:
“I don’t need the food out of your mouth, cutie. I’m just interested in the lips that go around it.”

Whew! The lady laid on flirtation like she was laying down a fresh layer of asphalt. Hot, steamy, and thick.

Reed's PTSD was explored in quite depth, which frankly surprised me as I wasn't expecting it from a contemporary romance, especially as Reed started out as a secondary character:
For months he’d seen himself as damaged, useless. The doctors tried to tell him depression was an expected symptom, but he didn’t feel depressed. He felt like a windshield the moment after it’s hit by a rock—covered with a web of hairline cracks, on the verge of splintering apart. Waiting for the next tiny thing that might shatter him irreparably.

Though Callie and Reed were both nice cute and quirky characters I would have preferred if they got their own novel and Cruising Toward Love could have focussed on only Zoe and Nate. Maybe it's due to this that I found the middle a bit slow and bumpy, I just wanted to read more about Zoe and Nate and would have liked Callie and Reed to cede the stage to them :-/ (I would have loved to read about Zoe and Nate finally talking and confronting everything that happened, what they thought ten years ago instead of their time together being always interrupted because of meeting Callie.)

Christi Barth had me hooked right from the start, the small town was adorable ("here in Towanda, adulterers were exposed while perms were wrapped"), Nate and Zoe had both chemistry and history, so I was a bit disappointed that their story wasn't explored in such depths I would have liked (for example their first kiss after ten years wasn't described at all, neither how it made them feel, which in my opinion would have been crucial). I liked Callie and Reed, but I couldn't forgive that them being on the scene meant less time spent on Zoe and Nate.

The humour in the novel was refreshing and had me chuckle out loud several time:
“Togas, ouzo, and a great love of feta cheese comprise my entire knowledge of the nation of Greece,” said Reed. “Can anyone else do better?”
Nate shook his head. “Add a solid appreciation for gyros and that does it for me.”

“You keep surprising me with this latent romantic streak of yours. I like it, don’t get me wrong,” she added hastily, “but I sure don’t remember you being so sentimental in high school.”
Probably not. To a horny teenage boy, romantic gestures pretty much topped out at remembering to buy two sodas at the movies. And rubbing a few extra brain cells together to make sure one of them was diet.

And Nate was wonderful, in my opinion his proposal was one of the best and most moving one due to its simplicity and blaring honesty:
“Thinking about you makes me happy. Being with you sends me over the moon. I can’t do anything to bring back the time we wasted living separate lives. But I can ask you to let me try to make it up to you while you spend the rest of your life with me. Marry me, Zoe.”

Cruising Toward Love was an entertaining, sunny and funny contemporary romance, but why the suspense bit was added is beyond me, and for me it didn't add much to the storyline and the reason behind the mystery was ridiculous, far.fetched and improbable.

Verdict: Cruising Toward Love was a nice and sunny read, I loved the sometimes witty, sometimes emotional banter or interaction between Nate and Zoe, but I expected to be blown away just as much as Act Like We're in Love did and sadly Cruising Toward Love didn't. I wonder if I hadn't read Act Like We're in Love first maybe I wouldn't have had such high expectations for Cruising Toward Love and would have enjoyed it more. As it is, Cruising Toward Love was a nice and entertaining, funny and romantic story full of adventure and sunshine (but I still recommend you check out Act Like We're in Love).

Plot: 6/10
Characters: 8/10
Writing: 7/10
Ending: 7/10
Cover: 5/10

Buy it:

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